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BCS BOE hosts first in-person board meeting

Chairs were spaced 6 feet apart at the Board of Education meeting for Brewton City Schools on Mon. night. The first in-person meeting since April, many faculty, teachers, and concerned parents were in attendance.
Opening the meeting, Superintendent Dr. Kenneth Varner presented the financial report to the board. During his presentation, he did note that the school system was awarded funds through the CARES Act. “We have been notified that our share of the COVID money, the CARES Act money is $361,000. That money is not actually sent to us, it is going to be a reimbursement. We will be able to go back to March and code that back to this and apply that for reimbursement,” shared Varner.
Next, in new business, the board approved a FY20 budget amendment. “On the budget amendment, the law requires we do at least one budget amendment in the spring,” said Varner.
Moving on, the 2020-2021 Code of Conduct was presented to the board.
“Before I make the recommendation on the next item, we have some guests that I have asked to come and talk about our code of conduct review process,” said Varner.
Welcoming Mrs. Catherine Watson to the meeting, Varner shared more about the review process. “I asked for an administrator from each school, a teacher from each school and a parent from each school. Now Mrs. Watson will present more. She is an aspiring administrator and one of our veterans at T.R. Miller High School,” said Varner.
Addressing the board, Watson shared more about the thorough process. “One of the things I was impressed with as far as this committee is concerned is what you have in front of you is a small document, what we started with was a 3 inch binder,” said Watson.
“We split deliberately in groups without Dr. Varner sitting at a table so that we could discuss among ourselves what we felt like worked what we felt like didn’t work,” she added.
Commenting on the process, Brewton Elementary School Principal Barry Wood was very pleased with the outcome. “I wrote down three words that really summed up the process for me. Mrs. Watson has nailed the whole thing. It was comprehensive and that how we tackled it. I thought it was inclusive, the paretns thtat were involved with it, they were really crucial to the process, and it was deliberate. Everything we did was the purpose for the benefit of our children.”
The code of conduct was tabled until the next meeting and is available online as a pdf for the community to review.
Lastly, the Jamari Terrell Williams student bullying policy was proposed to the board and tabled for the next meeting.
In the personnel actions, five new positions were filled throughout the school system.
Before closing, Varner shared his monthly report. Varner explained that the student drug testing policy was tabled and more discussion will take place before any action occurs. The main topic of discussion was answering the question regarding the re-opening of schools. “About 27% of the school districts in the state are going to start the week of Aug. 3, that is what they have as their start date. So almost a 1/3 of the school systems are sticking with their start date on Aug. 3rd and right now that’s where we are too. We haven’t recommended any changes to our calendar at this time. “
Based on a school survey conducted by the school system last week, 93 percent of parents opted to send children back to a traditional classroom and 7 percent of parents want to keep their children at home.
“We will be making the virtual option available for any parent that has concerns,” said Varner.
At this time, teachers are expected to return to school on Aug. 3 and students returning on Aug. 6. The next regular meeting is scheduled for July 20, and a special called meeting is set for July 6.